Offseason Outlook: Memphis Grizzlies

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead to offseason moves for all 30 teams. We’ll examine free agency, the draft, trades and other key storylines for each franchise as the summer approaches. 

Nelson Chenault/ USA TODAY Sports Images

Nelson Chenault/ USA TODAY Sports Images

Mike Conley‘s Free Agency

The offseason for the Grizzlies is somewhat similar to their offseason last year. The top priority again will be attempting to retain a premier player, something they were able to accomplish last year when they re-signed Marc Gasol to a five-year max deal. This July, the team hopes to lock up Mike Conley. He believes this team can still be a championship contender. “We might have a different team with a lot of different faces,” Conley said last month after a postseason loss against the Spurs. “But with the core group of guys we have instilled here, and with [Gasol] coming back healthy, we definitely have a chance to continue in this window to be successful.” This is a team that has made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons, but its chances of making the playoffs again next season and the direction of its offseason are dependent on Conley putting pen to paper in Memphis.

Coaching Search

The Grizzlies parted ways with Dave Joerger and whom they choose to be the next coach should shine some light on what their plans are going forward. The team reportedly intends to pursue Frank Vogel, who was not retained by the Pacers. Such a move could signal that they intend to keep the core of Conley, Gasol and Zach Randolph together, as Vogel has extensive experience coaching teams that employ two traditional big men, although that is simply my speculation.

Potential Trades

Trading Randolph seems to be the deal that could bring in the most without sacrificing a potential All-Star. The power forward has one year at slightly under $10.4MM left on his deal. That’s an attractive contract for a player who displayed superb offensive ability as recently as this postseason. If they do make him available, he would be a good fit for the Raptors, as he could easily steal Luis Scola‘s minutes. Ultimately, I suspect that the team keeps its beloved big man for at least another season, assuming the Grizzlies also keep Conley and don’t go into any sort of rebuild.

Free Agent Targets

Again, the offseason plans are directly related to Conley’s decision. If the team isn’t in the market for a starting point guard, its priority should be adding a shooter or two. The Grizzlies shot 33.1% from behind the arc as a team, which was good for only 29th in the league, and only three teams made fewer 3-pointers than Memphis did. The Grizzlies only have slightly over $47.6MM in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season against a projected salary cap of $92MM.

They hope to have Conley’s new contract on the books as well, and if they can come to an agreement quickly with the point guard, they could operate in the same way the Spurs did when they re-signed Kawhi Leonard, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors detailed in the team’s Salary Cap Digest. Conley’s cap hold is slightly under $14.1MM, which is significantly less than the $26MM maximum salary he’s likely to garner. Securing a verbal commitment from Conley would allow them to use their cap space on another target before circling back and re-signing the 28-year-old.

Nicolas Batum would be a nice addition. Batum isn’t a great 3-point shooter, but he has hit 36% of his shots from behind the arc during his career. He would give the Grizzlies a third option on the court for the next several years behind Conley and Gasol, and he would add some much-needed youth to the roster. Signing Chandler Parsons would achieve the same goals. He’s a better shooter than Batum is, though he’s likely going to be even harder to pry away from his incumbent team. Harrison Barnes is an appealing option, but I speculate that he re-signs with Golden State.

Could the Grizzlies be the team that impetuously offers Kent Bazemore a hefty deal? If they want to add a player who could become a mainstay in their core, they may have to settle for a gamble like Bazemore. Landing a more proven commodity with a mix of youth and shooting on the free agent market will likely be a difficult feat. There simply aren’t many big-time free agents that are realistic fits for Memphis, and no, Kevin Durant is not walking through that door. More likely, the team adds a few pieces around its existing core, taking a gamble on some young talent or adding a veteran shooter, such as Jared Dudley, with the hope that his shooting can supplement the team’s offense.

Draft Outlook

  • First-round picks: 17th
  • Second-round picks: 57th

Adding talent through the draft will be crucial. They’ve had some misses recently in the latter half of the first-round, like their decision to choose Jordan Adams over Rodney Hood. Memphis should be in a position where the No.17 overall pick doesn’t necessarily need to contribute next season, but the team badly needs a player who can develop into a contributor down the road.

Other Decisions

The Grizzlies will have to decide whether they should pick up Lance Stephenson‘s team option, which is worth slightly over $9.4MM. If the team hires Vogel, it would likely keep Stephenson and see if it can recreate the success that the shooting guard enjoyed in Indiana, although that is just my speculation.

Final Take

The Grizzlies saw 28 different players suit up for them this season, as a result of injuries and the subsequent trades. Before the injuries, they were considered contenders for the Western Conference crown and if they can retain Conley, add a few pieces and hire the right coach, they could easily keep their championship window open for a few more years.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents (Qualifying Offers/Cap Holds)

  • Bryce Cotton ($1,180,431/$1,180,431)
  • Xavier Munford ($1,074,636/$1,074,636) — Pending team option
  • Totals: ($2,255,067/$2,255,067)

Unrestricted Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $92,000,000

Footnotes:

  1. The Grizzlies can’t re-sign Hairston to a contract with a starting salary worth more than the amount listed here because the Hornets declined their team option on his rookie scale contract before the start of the season. Charlotte subsequently traded Hairston to Memphis, which inherits the restriction.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar

wpDiscuz

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: